Green Guide

New Mexico approves settlement over groundwater violations

Posted September 10, 2020 5:02 p.m. EDT

— State water quality officials announced Thursday that they approved a settlement agreement with the U.S. Defense Department over groundwater violations at Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico.

The agreement addresses a compliance order that was issued over Cannon’s lack of a groundwater discharge permit. The base also was accused of not providing state environmental regulators with information about chemicals left behind by past military firefighting activities.

The state Environment Department had initially fined the Air Force almost $1.7 million for failing to monitor the contaminants discharged at Cannon and for letting its permit expire.

Under the agreement, the Defense Department will pay the state more than $250,000 and monitoring of contamination linked to chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, will be part of the new permit.

Environment Secretary James Kenney said in a statement that federal facilities in New Mexico have a history of disregarding state environmental laws and that the Defense Department must comply with permitting requirements to ensure protection of drinking water supplies that residents rely on.

The agreement does not affect the state's pending lawsuit against the U.S. government over PFAS contamination at Cannon and Holloman air bases.

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